When comparing King of Tokyo vs Karuba, the Slant community recommends Karuba for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for families?” Karuba is ranked 2nd while King of Tokyo is ranked 7th. The most important reason people chose Karuba is:
Karuba is a very simple game that has only a few mechanics. All players have individual gameboards and tiles that are set up in the same way, the players decide where to place the adventurers and the temples. One player has their tiles shuffled in a deck, this player is the expedition leader. Each turn the expedition leader will choose a tile and call out the number on it, the players then find this tile and decide what to do with it. You can either place it anywhere on your map or discard it to move one of your adventurers. The game ends when either all tiles are played, or a player has reached all four temples. The goal of the game is to gather the most points, be it by reaching temples or gathering gems on the way. The temples give more points to players that reach them first.
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Pro Good for parties
The game’s whacky theme of different monsters battling it out in the city of Tokyo gives the game a silly and light-hearted feel that the players easily take over. There’s constant engagement between the players, be it trash talk, begging for mercy while in Tokyo, anger or delight for dice rolls, or persuading others to gang up on someone.
Pro Great artwork
King of Tokyo features some unique monster-y artwork, sort of parodying the movie cliché of huge beasts destroying urban environments. Everything is very colorful, cartoony, and highly detailed, from the box itself to the cardboard cutout monsters, the ability cards, and the gameboard with a burning Tokyo in the background.
Pro Very nice monster boards
The base game includes six different playable monsters and their matching cardboard cutouts and player boards. These monster boards are of great quality, feature the same wonderful artwork as the whole game, and are nicely designed. There are two spinable parts that show the monster’s health and victory points, so it’s a very easy way to keep track of what is happening.
Pro Simple rules
King of Tokyo is highly accessible to people of all ages because it’s very easy to learn but it still provides enough room for strategy because of the “being in Tokyo” part. The whole game revolves around rolling dice and trying to either reach 20 victory points or destroy everyone and everything.
On your turn you roll six dice. With the dice you can receive 1, 2, or 3 victory points (if you roll three of the same number), attack other monsters by rolling the attack icon, receive energy for ability card purchases, or heal yourself. After you’ve rolled you can re-roll any amount of dice two more times.
Rolling an attack icon lets you attack the monster that is currently inside Tokyo, or, if you are inside Tokyo, all monsters outside. The monster inside has the choice to retreat before the attack hits, forcing the attacking monster inside Tokyo. Why is being in Tokyo good? You receive 2 victory points if you’re inside at the start of your turn.
Pro Easy to learn
Karuba is a very simple game that has only a few mechanics. All players have individual gameboards and tiles that are set up in the same way, the players decide where to place the adventurers and the temples. One player has their tiles shuffled in a deck, this player is the expedition leader.
Each turn the expedition leader will choose a tile and call out the number on it, the players then find this tile and decide what to do with it. You can either place it anywhere on your map or discard it to move one of your adventurers.
The game ends when either all tiles are played, or a player has reached all four temples. The goal of the game is to gather the most points, be it by reaching temples or gathering gems on the way. The temples give more points to players that reach them first.
Pro Aesthetically pleasing
The game looks great and the components are detailed and add a lot to the theme. The gameboard is a stylized map of the jungle with portraits of the four adventurers on the left. The tiles form a clear and understandable path through the jungle when placed, and the numbers are easy to read. The meeples are designed to look like temples and adventurers, they are colored and easy to distinguish and spot on the gameboard. The treasure tokens are detailed, colorful, and come in many sizes to represent more points. The little crystals and gold pieces are very shiny and come in different shapes.
Pro Well-made components
The components in Karuba are durable and should hold up to regular wear and tear very well. The gameboards are big and don’t feel flimsy, the cardboard tiles are thick, sturdy, and have a pleasant weight to them, the little crystal and gold nuggets are made of plastic, the temple treasures are made of cardboard, and the temple and adventurer tokens are nice wooden meeples.
Karuba can be played by pretty much anyone and in many settings. The game is great for families with players of many ages due to its simplicity and still good for a group consisting of experienced gamers because of the decent amount of strategic depth.
Pro Meaningful strategic decisions
Karuba can be quite strategically deep because it offers some interesting choices to players. Everyone’s trying to solve the same puzzle and use the same tiles, but the way you do it is going to be different. Is it better to place the tile or to discard it for movement? Which adventurer do you move? Adventurers can’t pass through each other, so it’s important to plan ahead.
There are many ways to gather points – reaching temples and gathering gems. If you reach the temple faster, then you’ll receive more points, but often gathering gems can also be very profitable, so it’s important to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Since all turns in the game happen simultaneously, there’s never a dull moment. A player calls out the number of the tile, the players decide what to do with it (place it or discard it for movement), and the game progresses in this fashion until it ends.
Con Component design
Apart from the wonderful monster boards, the rest of the components have quite a few drawbacks. The special dice are large, so it’s very uncomfortable to throw six of them, especially if you have smaller hands. The energy tokens are small, dark green cubes that can easily be displaced with a small shake of the playing surface or lost if they drop down on the ground. The cardboard monsters and ability cards show wear quite quickly.
Lastly, the only purpose the gameboard serves is to have two spaces that represent being in Tokyo. This function could just as easily be replaced by just putting a monster in the middle of the table, making the gameboard purely aesthetic and otherwise useless.
Con Player elimination
As soon as a monster reaches 0 health it’s out, so you’re going to have to sit and watch the remainder of the game if that happens to you.
Con First edition is pricey
The first edition of King of Tokyo costs $62, which is two times more than the newer edition, though the only differences between them are in the artwork and in one very minimal rule change about entering Tokyo – you don’t need to roll a claw, you enter straightaway. A lot of people prefer the first edition’s artwork.
Con Some very powerful card combinations
King of Tokyo has a few quite overpowered ability cards. If a player pulls off a specific combination, then they might be unstoppable and create a long, drawn-out and frustrating game until they finally win. For example, the wings card lets you cancel all damage if you have more than two energy. This basically means that you can keep evading hits and just stack up on victory points. Some players recommend removing a few cards from the game for a better experience.
Con Highly random
Since King of Tokyo is a dice rolling game, it should be no surprise that pretty much all of it revolves around getting lucky with your rolls, so if you’re not a fan of that then this isn’t the game for you. The game tries mitigating the randomness a little bit by having the re-roll mechanic and ability cards in play, but there are still plenty of opportunities to come back from crushing defeats or drop down from being in the lead.
Con One player is at a disadvantage
The player that takes on the role of the expedition leader must have their tiles shuffled in a deck. Each turn this player will draw a tile and call out the number so every player plays the same tile. This means that the expedition leader, unlike other players, doesn’t get to see what the remaining tiles look like and whether it’s possible to, for example, finish the path they have started or reach the temple in time.
Con Not a lot of player interaction
Karuba is basically a solitaire experience. You’re trying to solve the same puzzle in a different way. The only player interaction comes in the form of drawing tiles that determine which tile all players must use and watching other players’ progress in reaching the temples.
Con Takes a while to set up
Karuba has a lot of components that take a while to sort through and set up. On top of shuffling the deck, placing the gameboard and the treasure tiles, before every game you need to arrange 36 tiles in an ascending order, which be quite annoying.